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Penn State Football: Handing Out The Grades Following The Nittany Lions' Win Over Purdue

on October 06, 2019 10:00 AM

Penn State beat Purdue 35-7 in the most ugly blowout win you will see. The Nittany Lions came out hot, took care of the first quarter and then went to sleep. That being said a dominant defensive performance and ultimately a 35 point outing is nothing to scoff at in Big Ten play.

It wasn't the prettiest game, but James Franklin got to his 50th win at Penn State with relative ease. Here are the grades.

Offense: C

Well, this about sums up an average day for this offense. A 21 point first quarter was explosive, impressive, dominant and commanding. And then there was the rest of the game. Penn State racked up 206 of its 460 yards of offense in the first quarter alone, Sean Clifford went 6-for-7 and three different receivers had receptions of over 20 yards, Jahan Dotson leading the way with a 72-yard touchdown. If you wanted to see Penn State jump on Purdue like it did Maryland, you got that in the first 20 minutes.

Then there was everything else, the second quarter was sloppy, the second half was uninspired. Penn State couldn't get anything going and had no real urgency in turning that around. The Nittany Lions would obviously score more points, but five-straight punts to open the second half wasn't exactly what anyone wanted to watch.

Penn State finished the afternoon averaging 4.3 yards a carry, 13.2 yards a completion and 8-of-15 on third down, all of which sounds a lot better than it looked. Noah Cain looks like he has earned more carries, with 105 yards on 12 attempts, but the running back room continues to be a lot of good options, although Ricky Slade seems to have played his way out of the equation.

End of the day this grade is so low because we've seen this team play so much better. This wasn't a matter of a tight game and a low scoring affair as much as it was consistency and execution. It just wasn't pretty, and average is average.

Defense: A

What more can you say about this group? -19 yards rushing, 10 sacks (one shy of the program's single game record) and just one allowed third down conversion. It ought to be noted that Purdue came into Saturday's game shorthanded and without its two best players, but Penn State tee'd off on the Boilermakers over and over again. Purdue finished with 104 yards of offense and nothing much more than bruises to show for it.

Penn State did give up at least two bigger plays and a few younger corners had less than shining moments, but both of those things will happen in conference play. Penn State racked up 13 tackles for a loss for 93 total yards while Lamont Wade led the way with 11 tackles. 

Shaka Toney was a beast off the edge and picked up three sacks while Yetur Gross-Matos added two more as the onslaught continued.

Penn State's defense was the opposite of its offense on Saturday, it showed up all game, never relented and got the results to show for it. In some ways playing consistent defense is a bit easier than consistent offense, but the Nittany Lions were impressive all the same. There is something to be said for showing up and playing exactly as well as people expect.

Special Teams: D

Yikes. Blake Gillikin was inconsistent, Jordan Stout looked human, and KJ Hamler took risks he probably didn't need to. Oh and Jake Pinegar missed a 35-yard field goal. It was an ugly day for this group all around. A weird kick-catch interference penalty, a Penn State player muffing a punt because it hit him in the head only added to the afternoon debacle. Gillikin averaged 39 yards a punt but also had a few shorter fields to work with.

And the usually reliable Jordan Stout kicked his opening effort short, and another one out of bounds.

As for Hamler, he managed a nice 26-yard return but otherwise was limited both by his choices to push the envelope and a disinterest by Purdue in giving him good punts to field. He fumbled one return because it was a line drive, but we'll chalk that particular circumstance up to difficulty.

Overall, ugly afternoon for a unit that has shown itself to be more reliable than this.

Overall: C

End of the day Penn State won a Big Ten game in blowout fashion against a team not named Rutgers or Maryland and did it with relative ease. It's not so much that 35-7 is a bad result as it is a question of what it looked like. The Nittany Lions will take their win, but it left a kind of sour taste in the mouth knowing that the margin probably should have been so much more. That's a good problem to have though.

All things considered though a win is a win, and the Nittany Lions are apt to be much more involved when it comes to a meeting in Iowa City next weekend.

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